Dear Member,

In a Ministerial statement re LHA – 13.01.2020 , Under Secretary of State for Welfare Delivery (Will Quince, MP) announced that, from April 2020 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be increased in line with the Consumer Price Index, currently 1.5%, bringing an end to the 4 year freeze on rates, which had previously been pegged at the 30th Percentile or lower 3/10ths of market rents.

Whilst the move makes a welcome change, and, by the department’s estimate, is likely to benefit around 900,000 households, the level of the increase, only averages £10 per month, leaving most households still short, and having to pay top-ups to landlords, even to meet the 30th percentile level, out of income designed for other things like food, clothing, heating etc.

The Government defends its position by referring to the fact, £23 Billion, each year, is spent on Housing Benefit/Universal Credit “housing costs”. It also points to the injection of another £40M into the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) budget to help the most vulnerable of tenants.

Landlords, and their support organisations, remain aggrieved, these additional funds, whilst welcome, are still insufficient to cover the gap that’s been created between the LHA rate and even moderate rents charged in most areas of the UK. Many landlords have already withdrawn their properties from the LHA market making it all the more difficut for benefit reliant tenants to secure affordable tenancies.

Interestingly, there is no mention in the announcement of, what, if any, TAF (Targeted Affordability Funding) will be made available. As you’ll recall, this is currently available in many “high rent” areas, including London and many other areas, UK wide. The funding is derived from some of the LHA savings achieved by the freeze in rates. I’m told, the budget scheduled for 11th March 2020 may provide some indication of whether this or some other form of funding, will continue to be provided in more expensive areas.

As soon as I hear anything further, I’ll update you. Meantime, I can be contacted via email or by telephone 07733 080 389

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd